This is a QuickStart guide for the PiBreak Raspberry Pi breakout board from Freetronics.


Package Contents

The PiBreak package should contain one each of the following pieces:
  • PiBreak PCB
  • 2x13 pin Rasperry Pi "P1" female header
  • Plastic spacer tube
  • Plastic flat washer
  • Small M2.5 machine screw (bolt)
  • M2.5 hexagonal nut

Tools Needed for Assembly

  • Soldering iron
  • Solder

Assembling Your PiBreak

The easiest way to assemble your PiBreak is to do so directly onto a Raspberry Pi. You can assemble it loose as well, but the Pi helps hold it in place.

Put the 2x13 pin header in place

The 2x13 pin header should fit snugly onto the Raspberry Pi's expansion header pins. Check it is pushed all the way down.

Place the plastic tube spacer loosely in place

The spacer should sit loosely over the mounting hole closest to the 2x13 pin expansion header.

If you have a Revision 1 Pi with no mounting holes, don't worry. The PiBreak is still securely attached without the mounting hole, it's just not quite as sturdy. You can still use the spacer to help you hold the PiBreak PCB flat at the correct height when soldering. Just place it on any unpopulated part of the PCB edge, like this:

Place the PiBreak PCB onto the header pins

Place the PiBreak PCB onto the pins and the looser spacer. If the spacer is sitting over a mounting hole, you should be able to push the bolt through the hole to hold it in place.


Attach washer and nut

If your Pi has a mounting hole, loosely screw on the washer and the nut. No need to use hand tools, finger tight is fine. You just want the bolt to stay in the mounting hole while you solder the pins.

Solder first two pins

It is good to start by soldering just two diagonally opposite pins at each end of the header. This helps you check everything is straight before soldering the other pins.

You will need to apply a small amount of pressure to the top of the PiBreak PCB so it sits perfectly flat on the header. If you have a Pi with no mounting holes, you will need to be careful not to knock the loose spacer over.

After the first two pins are soldered, check the PiBreak PCB is sitting flat on the header. You may notice a very small deviation (0.25-0.5mm) in the height of the PiBreak PCB above the Raspberry Pi on one side, compared to the other. This is normal.

Solder rest of pins

After you're happy with the position of the PCB, solder the remaining pins:

All done, your PiBreak is assembled!

Tour of the PiBreak

The PiBreak gives you easy access to all of the pins on the Raspberry Pi header.

Power Pins

There are 3 power pin regions around the outside of the board - 5V, 3.3V and Ground. All of these pins are connected to the appropriate power pins on the Pi header connection.


IMPORTANT REMINDER: None of the I/O pins on the Raspberry Pi are 5V tolerant. Never connect a voltage higher than 3.3V to your Pi's I/O pins. If you need to convert 5V logic down to 3.3V logic, consider one of our LEVEL modules.




The GPIO (General Purpose Input Output) pins are the pins you can use as ordinary digital inputs and outputs. These are broken out in a row. Each pin has its GPIO number on a label beside it.

Note that these are the GPIO numbers (as you'll use to access the pins from software running on the Pi), not the numbers of the pins on the actual 26-pin header.


Revision 1 Raspberry Pis (without mounting holes) have three differently numbered GPIOs. These GPIOs are marked on the PCB with a slash, for example "2/0" indicates GPIO 2 on a Revision 2 Pi, but GPIO 0 on a Revision 1 Pi.


 GPIO on Revision 2 GPIO on Revision 1
2 0
3 1
27 21


Special Function Pins

The special function pins (that can be used as GPIOs but also for other functions) are marked with labels next to them. These are:

  • i2c "two wire" digital bus.
  • SPI "three wire" digital bus, including the CE0 and CE1 "slave select" pins for connecting multiple devices.
  • Serial port TX and RX (TX and RX are named relative to the Pi, the Pi transmits information on TX and receives in on RX.)
  • Hardware PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) pin, GPIO 18.


P6 Reset Pins

The Revision 2 Raspberry Pi features an unpopulated two pin header, P6, that allows you to reset the Pi by shorting them together. More details here. These pins are empty on the Pi but the equivalent pads are also marked on the PiBreak:

If you solder headers on the PiBreak and the Pi's P6 connector then you can get access to these pins on the PiBreak.